Jury finds Lima man guilty in throat-slashing case

June 13, 2013

LIMA — A jury quickly returned a guilty verdict Thursday against a man who slashed another man’s throat last year.

The jury took about 45 minutes to convict Bruce Bagley of felonious assault, a second-degree felony. Prosecutors also filed to have Bagley sentenced under the repeat violent offender law which could earn him up to 10 more years in prison on top of the maximum of eight years for the crime.

Bagley was not sentenced Thursday. The judge has scheduled a hearing for June 25 to consider evidence on the repeat violent offender specification.

Bagley, 50, slashed the throat of Elwood Fletcher on June 27, causing an 8-inch wound that nearly killed Fletcher. He was angry with Fletcher’s family after he accused one of the family members of stealing a cell phone from him. The crime happened at the corner of Kibby Street and Harrison Avenue.

During closing arguments, Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Jana Emerick said there was no chance Bagley acted in self defense, as he claimed. She carefully went over the three elements of self defense while using the evidence to show why none of the three were met.

Bagley created the situation by approaching the car on foot at the intersection near his house and instigated a confrontation. She said even if he had a right to self defense he used too much force by bringing a knife to what was, at most, a potential fist fight.

Lastly, Bagley had a duty to retreat and he failed to even try to escape the situation, Emerick said.

Emerick used every piece of evidence to put together the case including interviews with police, which Bagley lied multiple times before finally admitting to slashing Fletcher’s throat then offering a self defense claim.

“On that day, Bruce Bagley was simply on the warpath. He was furious about the phone, and he was out for revenge,” she said.

Bagley’s attorney, Bob Grzybowski, pleaded with the jury to find Bagley acted in self defense and tried to give a different interpretation of Emerick’s evidence.

Grzybowski also tried to attack police saying an investigator would not listen to Bagley and was trying to get him to admit to doing something he didn’t do.

“Bruce Bagley was the victim of a crime,” Grzybowski said.

Emerick said Bagley’s actions during the interview with a detective proved he was making self-serving statements and not telling the truth. The video-taped interviews were played during the trial.

“Does that interview show a remorseful man who just had to slash someone’s throat in self defense?” she said.